Samuel Barber


Born: 1910   Died: 1981   Country: USA   Period: 20th Century
An open-hearted yet tough romantic, Samuel Barber was one of the few twentieth century American composers to fight for the primacy of lyricism. In his last decades he seemed to be losing the battle, but by the end of the century Barber had posthumously become one of America's most widely performed and recorded composers. In particular, his emotive Violin Concerto and Adagio for Strings have gained a popularity exceeded only by certain works of Read more Aaron Copland.

Barber entered the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia in 1924, where he met future opera composer Gian Carlo Menotti; the two would become lifelong lovers. Barber was an able pianist and a baritone of some talent, but he was an even more precocious composer. His 1933 Curtis graduation piece, the spirited School for Scandal Overture, has become a beloved concert opener.

Barber developed into America's most enduring composer of art songs; most popular is his tender setting for soprano and chamber orchestra of James Agee's Knoxville: Summer of 1915. Barber had unerring taste in texts, and his literary interests led him to compose some allusive short orchestral pieces. Yet he was particularly adept at writing abstract works, such as Music for a Scene from Shelley. Many of these are in large forms: two symphonies, one string quartet (from which was drawn the Adagio for Strings, first popularized by Arturo Toscanini), an ambitious piano sonata, and one concerto each for violin, cello, and piano. While following traditional formats, they are propelled by a dramatic expressivity that hadn't been fashionable since Sibelius. Equally direct in their emotional content are his three Essays for Orchestra, the second being the best crafted and most acclaimed.

Barber would have seemed an ideal composer for the stage, but he had limited success in that realm. Medea, a 1947 dance score for Martha Graham, has found greater longevity in orchestral excerpts. His 1958 Vanessa garnered him the first of two Pulitzer Prizes (the second was for his Piano Concerto), but, like most other American operas, it quickly dropped out of sight. Barber wrote Anthony and Cleopatra to open the new Metropolitan Opera House in 1966, but critical reaction was so hostile that he produced very little during his remaining 15 years. Barber was too conservative to be fashionable; his harmony could be astringent, but his tonality remained secure, his rhythms were strong and clear, and he was not above writing a good melody. Read less
Saint-Saëns, Poulenc, Barber / Latry, Eschenbach
Release Date: 02/13/2007   Label: Ondine  
Catalog: 1094   Number of Discs: 1
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American Classics - Barber: Orchestral Works Vol 1 / Alsop
Release Date: 06/13/2000   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8559024   Number of Discs: 1
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American Classics - Barber: Orchestral Works Vol 2 / Alsop
Release Date: 03/20/2001   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8559088   Number of Discs: 1
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Chopin, Beethoven, Barber, Brahms / Van Cliburn
Release Date: 10/25/2011   Label: Orfeo  
Catalog: 841111   Number of Discs: 1
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American Classics - Barber: Solo Piano Music / Pollack
Release Date: 12/15/1998   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8559015   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Adagio for Strings, Op. 11

Browse 26-50 of 163 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    The American Symphonic Organ / Jean-Baptiste Robin
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94726 Release Date: 12/10/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Isaac Albeniz,  Béla Bartók,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Jean-Baptiste Robin,  STacey Rishoi
    CD: $8.99
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  • 27.
    Music Of Steel - Heroic Themes From The Movies
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001871502 Release Date: 07/09/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Williams,  Gioachino Rossini,  Richard Strauss,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Helen Watts,  Brigitte [Mezzo-Soprano Vocal] Fassbaender,  Helga [Soprano Vocal] Dernesch,  Vera Schlosser  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly,  Sir Georg Solti,  Stanley Black,  Antal Doráti  ... 
    CD: $14.99
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  • 28.
    Clarinet Choir Classics
    Label: Mark Custom Recording Service,   Catalog: 50193 Release Date: 03/26/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Samuel Barber  ... 
    Performer:  Piccolo Clarinet] Patrick [Clarinet Sikes,  Jenny Maclay,  Basset Horn] Keith [Clarinet (Alto) Northover,  Michael Tran  ... 
    Conductor:  Mitchell Estrin,  David Waybright
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  University of Florida Clarinet Ensemble
    CD: $9.99
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  • 29.
    Phoenix Rising / Margaret Lacy
    Label: Acis Productions   Catalog: 89385 Release Date: 03/12/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Marcel Dupré,  Robert Elmore,  Roy Perry,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Margaret Lacy
    On sale! $18.98
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  • 30.
    Barber: Cello Concerto, Sonata, Adagio / Poltera, Stott, Litton
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 1827 Release Date: 01/22/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber
    Performer:  Christian Poltera,  Kathryn Stott
    Conductor:  Andrew Litton
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 31.
    Essential 20th Century Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 234372 Release Date: 01/22/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev,  Joaquin Rodrigo,  Aram Khachaturian,  Sir Edward Elgar  ... 
    Performer:  Jacqueline Du Pré,  Peter Donohoe,  Stomu Yamashta,  Steven Isserlis  ... 
    Conductor:  André Previn,  Simon Rattle,  Yuri Temirkanov,  Sir John Barbirolli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Modern
    CD: $12.99
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  • 32.
    Label: Ars Produktion   Catalog: 381335 Release Date: 01/01/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jean Sibelius,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Franz Waxman,  Henri Wieniawski  ... 
    Performer:  Arata Yumi,  Mone Hattori,  Zakhar Bron
    Conductor:  Zakhar Bron
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  • 33.
    50 Shades Of Classical
    Label: Cleopatra   Catalog: 159 Release Date: 11/27/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Gabriel Fauré,  Franz Liszt,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Danielle Dechenne,  Henrik Lagendaal,  Dubravka Tomsic,  Nicholas Sirart  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Raucheisen,  Zdenek Chabala,  Ferdinand Lang,  Zoltan Kovats  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Caspar da Salo Quartett
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  • 34.
    Essential Film Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 5134 Release Date: 10/09/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Richard Wagner,  James Horner,  John Williams  ... 
    Performer:  David Bell,  Manuel Barrueco,  Steve Morse,  Maria Callas  ... 
    Conductor:  Klaus Tennstedt,  Mariss Jansons,  David Abel,  Geoff Love  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 35.
    The Greatest Classical Music Ever!: The Best Classical Music In The Movies Ever!
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 04105 Release Date: 09/18/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Edvard Grieg,  Stanley Myers,  James Horner,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Steve Morse,  Manuel Barrueco,  James Horner,  David Abel  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Riccardo Muti,  Iain Sutherland,  Eugene Ormandy  ... 
    CD: $7.99
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  • 36.
    Neeme Jarvi - Highlights From A Remarkable 30 Year Recording Career
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 24144 Release Date: 07/31/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Antonín Dvorák,  Johan Halvorsen,  Gustav Mahler,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Melina Madozzi,  Linda Finnie,  Felicity Lott,  Boris Berman  ... 
    Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
    CD: $18.99
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  • 37.
    Copland: Fanfare For The Common Man; Barber: Adagio
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001706402 Release Date: 07/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Aaron Copland
    Conductor:  David Zinman,  Zubin Mehta
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  • 38.
    Essential American Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 27851 Release Date: 06/05/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Louis Moreau Gottschalk,  Stephen Foster,  Edward MacDowell,  Scott Joplin  ... 
    Performer:  Leonard Pennario,  Salli Terri,  Matt Glaser,  Thomas Hampson  ... 
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle,  Leonard Slatkin,  Neil Richardson,  John McGlinn  ... 
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  • 39.
    American Stringbook / Dogma Chamber Orchestra
    Label: Audiomax   Catalog: 9121717 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  David Diamond,  Samuel Barber,  Arthur Foote,  William Schuman
    Conductor:  Matthew Gurewitsch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Do.gma Chamber Orchestra
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  • 40.
    The Most Essential Classical Music In Movies
    Label: X5   Catalog: 111 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Claude Debussy,  Carl Orff,  Pietro Mascagni  ... 
    Performer:  Henrik Mawe,  Jose Perez,  Klemens Schnorr
    Conductor:  Ferdinand Leitner,  David Parry,  Heribert Beissel,  Hanspeter Gmür
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  • 41.
    Two Souls - Barber, Khachaturian / Mikhail Simonyan,  Kristjan Jarvi
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001617002 Release Date: 11/01/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aram Khachaturian,  Samuel Barber
    Performer:  Mikhail Simonyan
    Conductor:  Kristjan Järvi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $21.99
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  • 42.
    50 Greatest Pieces Of Classical Music / London Philharmonic Orchestra
    Label: X5 Music Group   Catalog: 105 Release Date: 10/25/2011   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Edvard Grieg,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Samuel Barber  ... 
    Performer:  Pieter Schoeman,  Finghin Collins,  Craig Ogden
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $24.99
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  • 43.
    The 50 Darkest Pieces Of Classical Music
    Label: X5 Music Group   Catalog: 108 Release Date: 10/25/2011   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Edvard Grieg,  Camille Saint-Saëns  ... 
    Performer:  Michael Ponti,  Finghin Collins,  Roland Pöntinen,  Emmy Berhey  ... 
    Conductor:  Volke Schmidt-Gertenbach,  Heribert Beissel,  David Parry,  James DePreist  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moyzes String Quartet,  Camerata Antonio Lucio,  Capella Istropolitana  ... 
    CD: $24.99
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  • 44.
    Essential Strings
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 94919 Release Date: 07/12/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Pachelbel,  Luigi Boccherini,  George Frideric Handel,  Gioachino Rossini  ... 
    Performer:  Maxim Vengerov,  Vag Papian,  Georges Armand,  Jean-Patrice Brosse
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Jerzy Maksymiuk,  Iona Brown  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Virtuosi,  Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic
    CD: $12.99
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  • 45.
    Walton, Barber: Violin Concertos / Bowes, Swensen, Malmo Opera Orchestra
    Label: Signum Classics   Catalog: 238 Release Date: 06/28/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir William Walton,  Samuel Barber
    Performer:  Thomas Bowes
    Conductor:  Joseph Swensen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Malmö Opera Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 46.
    20th-Century Classics / Marriner, ASMF
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001553402 Release Date: 05/24/2011   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Richard Strauss,  Richard Wagner,  Heinrich Josef Baermann  ... 
    Performer:  Jack Brymer,  John Ogdon,  John Wilbraham,  Michael Laird  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
    On sale! $129.99
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  • 47.
    American Classics: Great American Showpieces - Bernstein, Copland, Gershwin, Barber
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 48952 Release Date: 05/17/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leonard Bernstein,  George Gershwin,  Samuel Barber,  Aaron Copland
    Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin,  Eduardo Mata
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  • 48.
    Barber: Complete Orchestral Works / Alsop, Royal Scottish National Orchestra
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8506021 Release Date: 09/28/2010   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Samuel Barber
    Performer:  Stephane Rancourt,  Louise Winter,  Lesley Craigie,  Roderick Williams  ... 
    Conductor:  Marin Alsop
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra
    CD: $48.99
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  • 49.
    Majesties: The Great Organ Of Washington National Cathedral
    Label: Loft Recordings   Catalog: 1114 Release Date: 09/28/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  César Franck,  Seth Bingham,  Herbert Howells,  Sir William Walton  ... 
    Performer:  Scott Dettra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 50.
    Barbara Hendricks Sings Bach, Barber & Copland
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 29355 Release Date: 09/14/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Aaron Copland,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Barbara Hendricks,  Maurice Murphy,  Hĺkan Hardenberger,  Eckart Haupt  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael T. Thomas,  Peter Schreier
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